Author: Sara Shepard
Publisher: HarperTeen (a HarperCollins imprint)
Pub. Date: August, 2011
Read an excerpt of The Lying Game
Read an excerpt of Never Have I Ever
Never Have I Ever is one of those books that it felt like I'd been waiting on forever.
I read The Lying Game this past January, and loved it. I couldn't wait for the second book. But when Never Have I Ever was released this past August, my reading schedule was already so jam-packed (I had, and still have, books that need to get read and reviewed by specific dates for a number of reasons – Release dates, Library due-dates, various upcoming features and events, etc. -- and there was the normal time crunch of co-running a fairly brand-new blog, too.) that I had to make myself put off reading it just yet.
And then I made the mistake (in the sense that it completely chucked my schedule out the window. Definitely NOT a mistake otherwise.) of tuning into ABC Family's version of The Lying Game (Mondays, 8/7c – guess you know what I'm doing tonight). If you haven't seen the show yet, then let me tell you: the people who work on this series are masters when it comes to leaving you hanging. After a few episodes of tuning in and then being left to bite my nails down to the quick for a week, I couldn't take it anymore. I needed an Emma/Sutton fix to get me through the week, and Never Have I Ever was just sitting on my shelf all nice and pretty.
Now, before you start saying anything along the lines of: “But if you've read the books, how can the show be nail-bitingly good?” Let me explain something to you. The show, while based (and I use the term loosely) off the books, is a different entity entirely. You still have the long-lost twins that are in the books – one a part of a nice, well-to-do family, whether she recognizes it or not, the other in a crappy foster care situation (who has to take the place of the first sister while she is gone, as opposed to dead in the books). Also, a lot of the supporting characters are the same with similar roles.
That's where the similarities end.
But I digress. This is a review of the latest chapter in Sara Shepard's newest series, not of the television show.
When I jumped into reading Never Have I Ever, I was quickly reminded of why I loved The Lying Game so much in the first place. The secret investigation into who killed Sutton Mercer was still underway for Emma and Ethan, and practically everyone was still a suspect. To make matters worse, Emma was still only two weeks into playing Sutton. She had no idea, really, who these people were and what they were capable of – or much about Sutton, herself, for that matter. How was she supposed to know the sort of things Sutton may have gotten herself into before her untimely demise?
Slowly, Emma is given various opportunities to eliminate potential suspects. Certain friends have alibis, and for others, possible motives are discovered. Yet, by the end of the book we're still not any closer to discovering who the real culprit is.
I'll admit it. This book had me. It's not very often that I am given a story where I am so certain who the bad guy is, only to discover I was completely off base. A few glancing suspicions here or there, maybe, but only occasionally where I've fingered the wrong person for the crime with such an adamant belief in their guilt. Sara Shepard weaves together her mystery so artfully that this is actually the second time in as many books that I have done this, and may already be falling for a third (I won't know for certain until February 7th, 2012, when Two Truths and a Lie comes out, but I've got my eye on you, character I'm not going to name).
One of the other things I loved about this book was the character development. Er, well, not development per se (don't really recall seeing too much of that in the sense of growing as a character, unless you count Sutton, herself, or Emma with her whole throw caution to the wind thing, there, in the end), but rather the glimpses into the characters' pasts (provided by the deceased Sutton, as she remembered events that happened to her, and various other clues) that helped us to understand them better. It's a different sort of experience, I think, learning about characters you know nothing about, yet based on their relationship to Sutton you should at least know something. We learn as Emma learns and Sutton remembers, and as such, we are not just being told about the characters, which is usually how it goes when a character has known someone forever, which is why I like it.
If you haven't read either of The Lying Game books and are a fan of stories reminiscent of roller-coaster rides, then I think you should give this series a chance. If you have read The Lying Game, but not Never Have I Ever then trust me, you don't want to wait much longer to pick up this sequel.
Overall, I would rate Never Have I Ever with 4.7 Crazy Hearts, and am eagerly anticipating the next installment.